Gang terrorises elderly couple in Ballynahinch before taking their life savings
A woman whose frail parents were robbed of their savings by a masked gang – who then mocked them – has spoken of their deep distress.
Five men, including one armed with a screwdriver, forced their way into the pensioners' property, telling them they were from the LVF.
Two of the couple's sons – aged in their 40s – were also in the house at the time and were held captive in a bedroom with their parents while the thieves ransacked the house.
As they made off with almost £3,000 one of the men brazenly told their shaken victims they were "away to count all this money".
Patsy Boyle (76) and his wife Bridget (80) were recovering from their ordeal at their Ballynahinch home yesterday, surrounded by family.
Their daughter Sharon said both her parents, who have 12 children, have been in poor health recently.
"They were just sitting when they heard noises at the door," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"My mum and dad and brothers were then made sit in a room while they searched the house. They left with thousands."
It happened at 8.15pm on Monday in the Loughside Drive area of the Co Down town.
All of the gang covered their faces with scarves and baseball caps. One is said to have spoken with an English accent.
Mr Boyle underwent major heart surgery in recent years, and previously lost an arm in a road accident.
Michael Coogan, who knows the family, said he was disgusted.
"The gang said they were from the LVF and locked the front and back doors to ensure nobody could get in or out," said the Sinn Fein councillor. "There is the concern it could have been local people involved. Anybody with information needs to bring that to the police."
SDLP councillor Anne McAleenan visited the family to offer her support.
"Thankfully they were not physically injured but, still, this has been extremely traumatic for them and it will take some time for them to come to terms with what happened," she said afterwards.
"The woman is very feeble at the minute and the elderly man has a significant disability through a road traffic accident. This is the last thing they needed or deserved."
Councillor Patsy Toman, who is also an SDLP representative, described it as a "despicable and cowardly attack on a family that is so well liked and respected".
He added: "It also instils fear in the whole community and will continue to do so, until the culprits are caught."
Detectives are keen to hear from anyone with any information regarding this crime. They can be contacted on 0845 600 8000.
"I was disgusted when I heard what happened, as is the whole community, and I urge the police to make every effort to catch the gang involved in this despicable and cowardly attack on a family that is so well liked and respected in the community.
"This happened in their home, a place where they are supposed to feel safe but, when something like this happens, people feel anything but safe. It also instils fear in the whole community and will continue to do so, until the culprits are caught."
Patsy Toman, SDLP councillor